Winner!

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Turns out facebook makes it really hard to find out who has liked your page, maybe a good thing, but either way….with help from random.org the winner of my little 2015 giveaway is Sarah!! Congratulations! I will make sure to send you a free copy of every pattern I publish this year.

Thank you all for joining in the fun with me! Now, back to the knitting…

Nordic Wind KAL

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In the little break I took between Christmas and New Years I worked on a selfish project – my Nordic Wind as part of the Woolful January KAL. This is a most satisfying and rhythmic pattern from cabinfour, and worked up with the wonderful Lopi farm yarn from Green Bow Farm. I wrote more notes in my previous post here, but in the spirit of trying to share more about my FOs (and keeping my ravelry project page up to date) I wanted to round off this shawl with a final entry. There are some beautiful shawls popping up in the KAL thread over on ravelry, and great support from lovely folk. It is has me looking forward to Ashley‘s February KAL which features a Little Woolens pattern! We sure have been talking about Little Woolens long enough… the wait will soon be over!

Now, I have a bit more of this Lopi left, and I was to kindly gifted this hat pattern by the clever lady herself…. we might not have the weather for a super warm chunky hat, but I sure have the needles to make one!! IMG_4632

2015!

DSC_0015Well here it is! 2015.
As I wrote on instagram yesterday, the end of this year is little bitter sweet as I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by. With a growing and ever changing toddler, and a farm that doubled its herd size, it is overwhelming the pace that we traveled through 2014.
However, I know 2015 will be just as good, if not better! Hopefully my attempts to slow things down a bit, and be ever more present, will come to something and I won’t be bringing this feeling into the following New Year! I have lots of things planned for the months ahead of us, some patterns are ready to go, lots almost there, always a few at the swatching stage, and plenty in the sketch books or sitting there in skein form.
So how about a little fun to bring in the New Year? – a chance to receive a free copy of every pattern I release in 2015*! To play the game all you need to do is like by Annie Claire over on Facebook, and, if you want to double your chances join us in our ravelry group right here! I will let this run for a fortnight and pick out the lucky winner end of day Wednesday 14th January!

Good luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

*only patterns released through ‘by Annie Claire’ and ‘Little Woolens’

This morning

IMG_4258DSC_0036 DSC_0025 DSC_0020 DSC_0018DSC_0041 DSC_0012This morning I had the incredible fortune of waking up before the kiddo. It’s a rare and special treat (often due to a growth spurt on her part) and I try to absorb as much of them as possible. It also happened to be one of the coldest nights of our rainy winter so far, which brought a sparkly frost. After knitting and coffee, and the sun rising up through a cloudless sky, it poured through the windows and danced around the kitchen, bounced off ice capped water and burst through leaf-bare branches. I couldn’t help but get outside .

I am enjoying a bit of selfish knitting before the New Year. This past year has been a bit different for me with my knitting, digging into new designs more heavily, and working with deadlines more than ever before. Although I didn’t do much gift knitting at all, I still felt in the run up to Christmas that I wanted a bit of a breather and enjoy some downtime knitting – to knit whatever I want, and preferably someone else’s pattern! I’ve been working away on Mister’s sweater (more about that one soon!), I’ve already completed a Prim hat for myself, a pattern by Andrea Mowry – and currently working with some incredible bulky Lopi from Green Bow Farm in Washington and the Nordic Wind shawl by Deneise (Cabinfour). It is also my contribution to a KAL put on my friend Ashley over at Woolful.coml (more info here). I hope to explain more about the wonderful efforts Ashley is putting into supporting small flock and pure breed yarns, but she has made this amazing yarn available in her new online store WoolfulMercantile.com (although at this point it is sold out, sorry!)
I’m not usually a triangle shawl fan, and almost went ahead with my plans to adjust the placement of the increases for a crescent type shawl, but I am enjoying how this huge and bulky blanket-like project is coming along. I think the gradient of the natural fleece colours will be more dramatic within the triangle shaping. Becuase the yarn is thicker than the Lopi called for in the pattern, I went up to US11/8mm needles to maintain an open gauge and some drape. I am updating my notes as I go on my project page.

I cannot wait to get this project about my shoulders – most likely only one more night of work!

Which will bring me almost into 2015…. already?! I hope your way into the New Year is peaceful and inspired!

 

Pattern release : Starlight Scarf and Hat

KBP-19KBP-5KBP-17KBP-4KBP-6landscapeKBP-3   It’s always odd to work on knits for the coming season; a hat and scarf in summer? It’s funny to focus on something that doesn’t quite fit into the present. However, one must to get everything together and ready before the correct season has past! This sweet hat and scarf has a little story; they were inspired by the fact that whenever I travel back to England to see family and friends I always manage to forget something, and it often happens to be about the cold, wet and grey winter days….and a trusty scarf to keep out of blowing winds. Luckily there is a good supply of wooly winter ware at my parents’ house, and digging through it I always go for a scarf of my mother’s that features a simple one stitch color pattern and delicate picot hem. Last winter I wore this scarf to my old local town one day, and I stopped by the new local yarn store (oh how I wished it had been there when I lived there!), and happily discovered a healthy ‘British Wool’ section! In it was this gorgeous Bluefaced Leicester yarn from West Yorkshire Spinners*, in an array of natural fleece colours. Always a sucker for local fibers I snaffled up plenty and stored them away. Upon my return to American soil I realised how the buttery soft longwool fibers lend themselves naturally to a chunkier, longer version of my mothers scarf, and how perfectly fitting too.

I worked up a hat to match, fully lined for extra warmth (pom-pom optional to allow for reversibility, see pic below), and available in three different sizes. The outer and inner hats are worked separately and the stitches picked up through both at the cast on edge, to work the ribbing top-down. In Aran weight, both the hat and scarf are a speedy knit, and the simple colourwork is infectious! I can’t figure out which I love more, the hat or the scarf – good job I don’t have to choose!

So here is the Starlight Scarf and Hat, the first in hopefully an ever-growing collection of patterns focusing on British Wool.
*West Yorkshire Spinners ship internationally! Find the natural BFL here.

Yarn : For both Scarf and Hat; 4 skeins (MC), and 2 skeins (CC) West Yorkshire Spinners 100% Bluefaced Leicester Aran ; 100% Wool; 182yd/166m, 100g; photographed in Natural Brown 003 (MC) and Natural Ecru 001 (CC).
Or, 660yd/604m (MC) and 273yd/250m (CC) (includes pompom) in Aran weight yarn.
Needles : US 8 [5mm] needles, or size needed to obtain gauge, 16” circular, set of DPNs.
US 6 [4mm] needles, or size needed to obtain gauge, 16” circular.
Gauge : 19 sts and 28 rows = 4”/10cm in St st.
Notions : Stitch markers, tapestry needle, pom-pom maker (optional).

ENJOY 20% OFF UNTIL END OF DAY SUNDAY 21st! HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

(no coupon needed, just click ‘buy now’)

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Revisiting : Two Tone Cowl

 

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I’m so happy to have found the time to revisit this pattern, the Two Tone Cowl! It’s hard to look back on old patterns when you are constantly inspired with new ones, but at the same time I hate to have patterns available using my naturally dyed yarn that I don’t make accessible very frequently anymore.
I reworked this surprisingly simple slip stitch cowl in the amazing SHELTER yarn by Brooklyn Tweed. This worsted weight, woolen spun tweedy yarn has many, many things that I love; bounce, great stitch definition, domestic fiber and a gorgeous flecky colour palette. Essentially the pattern hasn’t changed much except that it is now written in three different sizes; the smallest hugging your neck gently, up to the biggest which can be worn around you neck once for a dramatic drape, or twice (my favourite) for extra cush.

And, wahoo – its still FREE! Download your copy here.
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Pioneer by A Verb for Keeping Warm

KBP-22 KBP-31 KBP-35  It’s been been an odd year with me and this blog. At the beginning of October, with a nudge from a friend, I tried to commit to a post a week, and it worked well – until I flew to England for a few weeks and things got a little left behind. Eitherway, I am very excited to be back and sharing a post all about the wonderful yarn I used for my design The Curve. If you remember, this was my first adult garment design and knowing that it would be a big endeavor I decided to go all in and used a yarn that I completely love and admire! The reason? It’s CA fiber, naturally dyed, and 100% American processed. And not only that, it is made from the softest Organic Merino, and put up in the hugely versatile worsted weight. This yarn is Pioneer, and the brains behind this amazing feat is Kristine of A Verb for Keeping Warm, in Oakland, CA. She has shared her journey in making the first and second batch of Pioneer on her blog, along with a conversation with the farmer who raised the wool, Sally Fox (who if you haven’t met her, please dig deeper – have you ever seen naturally coloured cotton?). With the intention to continue to share with you more about the yarn used in each of my designs (‘Behind the Yarn‘), I asked Kristine to tell us a little more about Pioneer and AVFKW. Whats more, you can find a discount for any Pioneer purchase good through the end of the week! See below for more details.

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Annie : Firstly, can you tell us a little about A Verb for Keeping Warm, what it does, and why it exists?
Kristine: A Verb for Keeping Warm encompasses my love for all aspects of textiles: from growing the materials, to processing them, dyeing them, and making them into primarily wearable garments and accessories. I grew up visiting my Grandmother in rural Illinois, which is where I learned to sew and knit. I traveled to Jaipur, India in college to study Art and Architecture. Weaving and dyeing could be commonly seen. Up until this point, I had not thought a lot about how cloth is made or how color was applied, so it was a very eye-opening experience. I was entranced with the clothing there – and learning to read the different styles. I was particularly keen on a group of semi-nomadic people – the Rabari. The women wore all black with panels of intricately hand-embrodiered designs. I came to learn that they these designs were actually series of motifs, all named, and formed a designated catalog, which when looking closely at the style in which they were applied and materials used could communicate where she was from, how old she is, and where in the region she travels. From this experience, I knew that I wanted to work with textiles and people who are drawn to make them – A Verb for Keeping Warm is this forum. And through that forum, I try to teach as many people as possible about textiles, and how to make them. It also provides me the space to practice natural dyeing – which I consider my core interest – and something I hope to study over the course of my life.

Pioneer – it is quite the feat! For those who don’t know, can you take us back to the beginning, from where was this yarn born?
I adore Pioneer! I had been looking to create a California-based yarn since Verb began in 2007. For the past few years Fibershed has held the Fine Wool Fiber Symposium. The first year, I met Sally Fox. We got to talking and she said she had some wool that she was willing to sell. Sally has been a long term hero of mine – so it was shocking in the best way possible that she was willing to work together. After the symposium, we got together, I purchased the wool, sent it to Green Mountain Spinnery, and thus was born Pioneer!

Where do you get the inspiration for dyes and colourways?
California’s natural landscape – the greys, light yellows and greens – are always captivating. I find natural dyes enticing due to their limitations and nuances. To create lightfast colors which are non-toxic, do little to alter the texture the hand of the wool, and can be reproduced for production, there are only about 8-10 dyes and one mordant that I can use. I use about 8 dyes to create over 100 colorways. It is similar to a chef having access to 8 ingredients – and needing to cook over 100 delicious meals.

So where can we get our hands on Pioneer?
Pioneer is available on Verb’s online store – and in our brick and mortar in Oakland.

Anything new we can expect to see over at Verb in this upcoming knitter’s season?
We were just gifted a Montana wool company – named Sweet Grass. This company was originally started by the rancher, Carolyn Greene. About ten years ago, she felt that it was getting too much to handle – with needing to care for the farm. So her friend and fiber-lover Patti Bobonich purchased it. Patti and Carolyn have had a great relationship – with Carolyn focusing on the sheep and Patti on the yarn. A few months ago, Patti decided that she would like to travel and retire. Patti has been a longtime friend of mine and Verb’s and due to our work with Sally, she graciously offered us Sweet Grass. There are two yarns that Patti designed and milled which we have picked up and naturally dyed. We have named them Clover (200y / 50g)  and Big Sky. (160y / 100g). They are both mule-spun at one of the last two mule-spinning facilities in North America. We have 1000 pounds of Targhee in Montana – and are currently discussing where to send it to be milled. In October, we traveled to Montana to see Patti and to meet Carolyn and her sheep. If you would like to read about our journey to Montana, I wrote about it in a series on the Verb blog called Textile Byways: Montana 2014.  

What is a day in the life of Kristine?
Girl! Who even knows!!! Since the book – during the book – my life is on its head – to be continued!

And lastly, for those of you who would love to find Pioneer in your stockings this Christmas, let your loved ones know that Kristine has kindly offered 15% off any and all Pioneer purchases until end of day Sunday 14th December using the code ‘byannieclaire‘ at check out! Shop now!

The Curve cardigan available here

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